If I were a betting man, I’d bet the approval of Issue 3 on Nov. 3 points Cincinnati in a new direction. I’d bet that a gambling casino at Broadway Commons makes this city a bit more progressive.
If I were a betting man, I’d guess that the good with this approval outweighs the bad. Thousands of new jobs will be created here, and our city will get badly needed tax revenue. This should be a plus for Ohio and Cincinnati.
But I’m not a betting man. Despite the fact I voted for the approval of Issue 3, I don't know much about gambling.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t view gambling as something bad, evil or addictive. It’s something I just don’t do.
I can’t remember the last time I played the Ohio Lottery. It’s been years. Know those gambling boats in Lawrenceburg and Rising Sun, Ind.? I’ve driven past them but have never had any desire or curiosity to stop.
Gambling isn’t a part of my life, but for a few days almost 10 years ago I was basically forced to think about it and try it on for size.
I got talked into going to Las Vegas by some of my buddies. We were getting a special deal on a flight and a hotel in Vegas — three nights at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino for a little more than $400.
I knew nothing about gambling then and still don’t. But Vegas was a place I’d never been to, so what the hell? I figured I would find something to do.
We arrived there mid-afternoon, and my buddies went immediately to the casino in the hotel. I unpacked my bags, walked around the city for a little bit and then took a nap in my room.
That night after dinner with my friends, I decided to check out the hotel casino. I saw a lot of gambling being offered (poker, blackjack, roulette) — stuff I knew nothing about.
I checked out the slot machines. This seemed pretty easy. Put in a quarter, pull down on a handle and get three “things” to match.
I decided I'd blow 20 bucks on the slots. I went up to a cashier and gave the guy a $20 bill. He gave me that much back in quarters inside a plastic cup.
After deciding on a slot machine, a casino waitress (I guess you call them that) wanted to know what was my pleasure in a drink. I ordered a Miller beer. The drinks were free, and the waitress kept backing them up on me.
I put a quarter into the slot machine and pull down on the handle. Most of the time nothing would happen, but sometimes quarters would come out from the tray at the bottom of the slot machine. I guess that was a match of some kind.
After 45 minutes of this and almost out of quarters, I decided to use up remaining quarters and go back to my room. Down to four quarters in my cup, I pulled the handle again.
Apparently, three red sevens on a slot machine is a good thing. A light and then a siren went off on top of the slot machine. Quarters started spilling out all over the place.
It was surreal. My memory recalls me filling up six or seven cups with quarters. My friends helped me carry them to a cash-out window, and the person inside, after checking out my I.D., wrote out a check for almost $500.
With that check in hand, commonsense took over. Winning this money more than paid for the trip. It wouldn’t make any sense to keep gambling. I decided to stop.
For the next two days, I had nothing to do. I’m not a fan of Vegas-type shows and wasn’t interested in calling any of the escort services that kept slipping flyers underneath my hotel room door.
I shopped, read a book, went to movies, napped and watched television — stuff I could have been doing at home.
Things I couldn’t do while there was look at a clock in my room or even make coffee. The Excalibur always wanted me out there on the floor. They always wanted gambling in my face. I couldn’t wait to get back home.
So that’s my gambling story. Obviously, I’m not a gambling man. But I’m also not part of any kind of organization that likes to control other lives and tell them what to do. Can Citizens for Community Values (CCV) say the same thing?
Dave Miller, vice president of public policy for CCV, has been sounding off. He’s afraid of gambling addiction and an increase in crime.
By the way, this is the same organization that was trying to “protect” adults from looking at adult ads in the back of CityBeat.
Even though voters have approved casinos in Ohio, I wouldn’t discount CCV’s anti-gambling efforts. If I were a betting man, I’d bet in the coming months CCV probably will make a lot of noise about what’s coming to Broadway Commons. They’ll try to scare us and give us their views on the difference between right and wrong.
Let’s hope the sensible adults in this community tell them they can make up their own minds about whether to gamble or not. It’s about freedom of choice. Let’s hope CCV minds its own business.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: [email protected]